My first year of fulltime teaching was with Summit Public Schools, a charter school network in the Bay Area, California. My course was “Lifelong Musicianship,” a secondary General Music class offered to grades 8-12 at four of Summit’s campuses. Summit operated as a 100% virtual school for the duration of the 20-21 school year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
At Summit, I taught over 200 students, mostly in grades 9, 10, and 11. Classes were taught on Zoom, with 20-30 students per class, for 105 minutes each day. Teaching music virtually greatly expanded my capabilities as a teacher; I learned more from this first year of fulltime teaching than I can even begin to express.
Lifelong Musicianship is a general music course for high school students. Click the links below to learn more about this course, view lesson plans, and more.
Unit 2: Music and Emotion
Unit 4: Composition and Music Tech
Successes at Summit
Here are a few of my accomplishments and successes at Summit Public Schools
Effective online teaching
Just as in physical school, differentiation is the key to student engagement. One strategy will not work for everyone; as I incorporated differing opportunities for engagement (camera/mic on, PearDeck/Nearpod, type into the chat, 1:1 breakout rooms, Zoom reactions, type into a Google Doc, and much more) into my virtual school lessons, I saw participation increase significantly.
Leader in proactive interventions
Among elective teachers at Summit, I had one of the highest success rates for intervening with failing students. I had fewer numbers of students not passing and greater numbers of students getting back on track due to my strategy of frequent, proactive interventions. Interventions were regularly scheduled on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, and included 1:1 meetings with students, regular communication with parents, and a robust monitoring system I built to track student data and ensure that none of my 206 students fell through the cracks. As a result, I did not need to play “catch up” at the end of the year to help students pass; they had already caught up and begun to make even greater progress because interventions had already been done.
Clear Credential in 1 year
With the support of an amazing mentor/principal, I am on track to earn my CA Clear Credential in just one year. My coach (principal) came to my class regularly to observe and give feedback; additionally, we met weekly throughout the school year to discuss my progress and thoroughly documented each meeting, action item, and evidence of growth. As a result, I anticipate being able to clear my Credential in or around the end of June 2021.
Powerful, positive communication with parents
Throughout the school year, I increased my ability to communicate with parents and guardians and saw a corresponding positive impact on student success. I wrote a program to automatically email parents whenever their children were absent, held an informal “Parent Info Hour” several times to meet parents, and had small intervention meetings with one student and his/her parent(s) when necessary.
Student accountability; student success
Due to these successful intervention strategies, I saw significant improvement in the number of students passing my class throughout the school year. I carefully crafted my assignments, interventions, and every part of my curriculum to be sure that students had the ability to succeed, but also were held accountable to put in effort and demonstrate growth. I carefully developed a growth mindset among my students and held them accountable as agents of their own learning. Their grades were earned, not just given to them, and many students have told me that they appreciate my “high love, high expectations” approach.